Thursday, April 27, 2017

Number 200

This is the 200th post of In Forest and Field, a minor milestone and one that will be highlighted with a somewhat different topic. I’ve been collecting quotations that have struck my fancy for over 45 years. I'd like to share some of my favorites that relate to the natural world:


The good worker loves the board before it becomes a table, loves the tree before it yields the board, loves the forest before it gives up the tree.
Wendell Berry

It is time now to sing of my gratitude: For legs and hills and trees and seasons … and for all the roads I walked on, for the hills I climbed ...  for trees and grass and sky.
          Andre Dubus


I am a lover of uneven ground and moving water.
          Author Unknown


Look at nature, especially in the spring, and you will know that however long or brief, life is worth the living.
          Linda Stiner


The Land is more important than we are.
          Author Unknown

In the world of biology, as in the world of finance, diversity is our only hedge against unknown and future risks.
          John Madson

When a pine needle falls in the forest, the eagle will see it drop, the deer will hear it hit the ground, and the bear will smell it.
          Old Adage

…it is quite possible to love a piece of country as one would love a friend and grieve nearly as much when it is taken from you.
          Philip Hyde

If you were accused of being a conservationist, would there be enough evidence to convict?
          Author Unknown

How can foresters be trusted to manage a natural preserve when they can’t identify the birds or wildflowers on the area, much less understand their special environmental requirements.
          Dr. Carl Reidel

The public interest in a healthy environment entails an effort to restore a naturally reproducing conifer-hardwood forest with its full complement of native flora and fauna.
          Aldo Leopold

Nature is not only more complicated than we think, it is more complicated than we can think.
          Author Unknown


Because it doesn’t have big brown eyes, no one cries when habitat dies. 
Jerry Hassinger


After we've lost a natural place, it's gone for everyone---hikers, campers, boaters, bicyclists, wildlife watchers, fishers, hunters, and wildlife---a complete and absolutely democratic tragedy of emptiness. For this reason, it's vital that we overcome our differences, find common ground in our shared love for the natural world, and work together to defend the wild.
          Richard Nelson

A final one that is my absolute favorite and the one that sums up my personal philosophy.

I live for those who love me,
For those who know me true…
For the cause that needs assistance
And the wrong that needs resistance,
For the future in the distance
And the good that I can do.
          E. Robert Wallach

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spring, Spring, Spring

It wasn’t that long ago that we had 17 inches of fresh snow on the ground, but now spring has arrived in full force. Suddenly tree buds, like this bitternut hickory, are swelling –

The apple trees are leafing-out and showing their pink flower buds –

The aspens are in bloom –

And the ephemeral wildflowers are beginning to bloom. Trout lily –

Dutchman’s breeches –

Bloodroot –

And rue anemone –

Spring beauty is one of the really early bloomers –

But it was rivaled last week by the white flowers of a round-lobed hepatica –

A lot of trees and shrubs are flowering. Spicebush –

Box elder –

And the brilliant white blossoms of fire (or pin, or bird if you prefer) cherry were highlighted against a white pine –

The flowers are even more beautiful when seen up close –

Although some painted turtles were sunning back in February when the temperature was unseasonably warm, now they’ve all emerged to bask on fallen trees in shallow ponds.

Spring wildflowers will soon be blooming in profusion, coming so rapidly that it will be hard to keep up.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hangin' On There

Winter’s over, the days are getting longer, buds are beginning to burst and the birds that come north in the spring are arriving. Here in the eastern deciduous forest the leaves on the hardwoods lost their chlorophyll last fall and began to fall to the ground. For months the hardwood trees have spread bare branches to the winter sky –

But not all deciduous trees have been without leaves throughout the winter. Some species have a tendency to retain some or most of their leaves. Those leaves are dry and brown, but they’re still on the branches. Younger trees exhibit this tendency more than their older brethren.

Last fall as the days shortened a corky layer developed where the leaves' petioles (stems) joined the twigs. This is called the abscission layer and cuts off the water supply to the leaf, resulting in the death of the green chlorophyll in the leaf. Thus all the leaves died and turned color brightening the forest with their shades of red, yellow and orange. The abscission layer weakens the bond between the leaves and the twigs and the leaves fall to the ground.

Except not all the leaves fell, some hung on through the rain and snow and wind – and still hang on.

Eastern Hophornbeam
White Oak
Scarlet Oak
American Hornbeam
Sugar Maple

By mid-May the buds on most of our trees will be open, and the new leaves will be expanding  pushing the few remaining old leaves from the twigs.